Published February 24, 2012
A white powdered substance believed to contain heroin was found in the hotel room in Uganda where the body of American television producer Jeff Rice was found last week, according to a report from ABC News.
Quoting forensic pathology consultant Dr. Stephen Cina, ABC reported Friday that a bag of white powder containing a “mixture of a component of heroin and some Tylenol and some caffeine,” was found at the hotel room in Kampala, Uganda where Rice, who had previously worked on the CBS show “The Amazing Race,” and his production assistant Katheryne Fuller, were found last Friday.
“That certainly suggests that at least in that bag there’s a mixture of several substances present,” ABC quoted Cina as saying.
It was not clear how Cina is connected to the investigation.
Sally Blackman, the widow of Jeff Rice, told FoxNews.com that her husband was found dead in his hotel room in Kampala and his production assistant was found in critical condition. She said there was no sign of attack, and that it was being treated as a suspected poisoning.
Ugandan authorities claim Rice died from a cocaine overdose after medical professionals performed a post mortem and found high concentrations of the drug in his stomach, the English language Ugandan newspaper The Daily Monitor reported.
Fuller remains in a Ugandan hospital in critical condition. According to ABC, police are awaiting permission from Interpol to release her to go back to South Africa and to release Rice’s body to his family there.
Ugandan Police Force Spokesman Asuman Mugenyi told ABC, “when she is recovered enough we will be able to talk to her and find out more about what happened.”
On Wednesday, the Monitor quoted Mugenyi as saying that Fuller tested positive for cocaine use and there was a high concentration of cocaine in Rice’s stomach.
Dr. Michael Baden, chief forensic pathologist for the New York State Police and a Fox News contributor, said the circumstances sound unusual.
“Even if both were voluntarily using the drug, it’s very unusual that two people would have such similar symptoms so quickly from an accidental overdose,” Baden said. “It sounds like there is more to this story than a typical overdose.”
“If [cocaine] was found in his stomach, it could absolutely have been the result of poisoning if he was forced to ingest it,” Dr. Nicholas Kardaras, an addiction specialist and professor of psychology at Stony Brook University, told FoxNews.com. “If someone were to snort very large amounts of cocaine, there could have been some trace amounts from nasal drip into the stomach, but if the concentration was found in the stomach, that’s likely a result of smuggling or ingestion."
“It could have been shoved into their mouth or put into their food. Cocaine is very erosive and will eat away at the stomach lining,” Kardaras said. “It would eventually get into the bloodstream and being a stimulant, would lead to a heart attack.”
Niether Baden nor Kardaras are involved in the investigation.
Sources told ABC News that Fuller’s passport and wallet were missing from the hotel room, which is complicating her return to South Africa. It is unclear whether the items were removed as part of the police investigation.
“The police may know more about the nature of his death, but are not letting on,” Baden added. “If the family is concerned about poisoning, they should have the body brought back to the U.S. and have a second autopsy with toxicology reports done.”